Masterful Mindsets ~ Take Breaks to Increase Productivity

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” ~ Alan Cohen


Do you often feel like you’re too busy to take breaks during your work day? Do you push yourself without taking breaks in hopes of getting more done? Do you ever feel guilty about taking breaks?

Action Challenge: 

I was talking with a friend recently who was feeling extremely overwhelmed and overworked. She was under a deadline for a project she was working on and felt so much pressure to finish that she’d been skipping her workouts, spending late hours in her office and practically working non-stop. The worst thing is, her writer’s block was so intense that she was getting nowhere fast with her project. The harder she worked, the more frustrated she became. Still, little to no progress was being made.

Of course, I suggested she use today’s success tip as a way to get herself back on track so she could reach her deadline. But she fought the idea. Until finally… she didn’t. She was so desperate to break through that she took my simple advice. And guess what? It worked!

So today I want to share one last success tip with you from my recent Back On Track Training. It’s the same tip I gave my friend. And when you hear it you may doubt it just like she did. But I’m very serious about this tip because this one simple tweak in your daily schedule can drastically increase your productivity…

TAKE BREAKS – It really is that simple. People think they have to always keep pushing but studies show time and again, that taking short breaks during your workday can drastically improve your levels of productivity and therefore success. It’s like hitting a reset button. Where you give your brain and your body the chance to reenergize, regenerate and refocus.

What I recommend to my clients (and my friends) is that they schedule their work days into time blocks. Blocking time is a very effective way to get and stay focused on one task at a time (remember, no multitasking) so it’s an easy fit to strategically schedule breaks between your time blocks. Plus, when you are working to incorporate this new habit, it makes it easy to remember to do it after each block.

Depending on the time of day and how intense your work blocks are, your breaks may vary in duration anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes. As a general rule of thumb, if you schedule 50-minute work blocks, you will want to schedule a 10-minute break before you start the next work block. But there’s no hard-fast rule about taking breaks. Do what works for you. Maybe you just need a short bathroom break or a drink of water. Maybe you need to get a snack, stretch or go for a walk outside. Just stand up and take a few deep breathes if nothing else!

Of course, sometimes it requires a big break. Like seriously… walk away from the project for several hours or days. Forcing yourself to stare at a computer screen when inspiration is not coming will not inspire you. It will only frustrate you. So walk away and do something that brings you back to the peace of the present moment. Be still and allow inspiration to come to you. Meditate and pray for whatever you need – courage, wisdom, insight, inspiration, etc.

My challenge to you is to embrace the idea of taking breaks by giving it a try. Plan out this week using blocked time and scheduling in breaks. And then at the end of the week, evaluate how you felt (energy levels, inspiration, focus, etc.) and how productive you were in comparison to the times when you fight and push through. I am willing to bet that you will see a noticeable difference over a period of time if you stick with this one simple success strategy.

And because I’m so certain that this works, if you send me a copy of your schedule (with blocked time and breaks) for this week, I will enter you into a drawing for a planner. One of my favorite planners is by a company called MomAgenda. (Yes, I’m still old school and write everything down in addition to entering client appointments and meetings into my online calendar.) I’ve used these planners for years. And I want to give one to a lucky winner. But only if you play full out with this week’s challenge!

***Send your schedule, along with your name and phone number, to:, using the subject line: Take Scheduled Breaks

***I want to hear from you… Share your comments below.